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What Works: January 2016

What works January 2016

8 THINGS THAT WORK THIS MONTH:

  1. First Bite: How We Learn To Eat // Bee Wilson’s book on how we develop and can change taste preferences is a must-read for picky eaters, new parents, and anyone interested in redeeming tangled histories with food.
  2. The Norwegian Secret to a Long Winter // Many of my clients notice at least a little bit of seasonal affective disorder during the darker months. If we experience this here in sunny California, imagine what it may be like in northern latitudes with little to no sunlight during certain months of the year. This article about the attitude of Norwegians is encouraging.
  3. Saltverk Sea Salt // I fell in love with this salt in Iceland and found that I can order it on Amazon! The flaky sea salt is fabulous, but if you’re up for adventure try the lava or birch salts.
  4. Forbidden Rice // I made a delicious forbidden rice dish to share at a Christmas potluck and I got hooked on this tasty black rice. The dark color comes from the same anthocyanins found in blueberries and acai berries and has been linked to health benefits like reducing inflammation, healthier arteries, and better insulin regulation. Look for “black” or “forbidden” rice at your local grocery store.
  5. Bon Appetit // This magazine has been around for a long time, but I’ve recently subscribed and I’m impressed. It’s not touted as a “healthy” magazine, but the best recipes don’t need to rely on heavy amounts of cheese, salt, or sugar for flavor. I’ve found wonderful vegetable, meat, and grain recipes in the pages of Bon Appetit, along with lots of inspiration to try something new.
  6. Lip Sheers // Beauty Counter’s Lip Sheers were my go-to Christmas gift because, not only do they look and feel great, but they also have a “1” rating from the EWG which means they’re good enough to eat (which you’ll end up doing if you wear them on your lips all day).
  7. 2016 Food Trend Predictions // Yahoo Food has predicted 16 food trends for the upcoming year, some of which I’m very excited about! Things like poke, fermentation, seaweed, and waste-free kitchens make me want to eat lunch with the cool kids.
  8. Sugar Still Doesn’t Work // Researchers at the University of Texas Cancer Center have found that “fructose, in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors.”

Healthy Tips for 2016: Bon Appetiit Magazine

Saltverk Icelandic Sea Salt

Beauty Counter Lip Sheers

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • Mise En Place: I shared my experience with this helpful kitchen prep technique and how it can turn you into a capable cook.
  • Travel + Well – Iceland: My time in Iceland was life-changing and I’ve shared my best tips on I stayed nourished during my trip. Click over for what to eat, where to stay, and what to do in Reykjavik and Selfoss.
  • Potatoes: The potato has a long and storied history, which I’ve detailed here along with how to select, store, and prepare potatoes in the most nourishing way.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2016!

Travel + Well: Iceland

Healthy Iceland Travel Guide

Seeing the Northern Lights has been on my and my husband’s bucket lists for some time so when it came time to plan our tenth anniversary celebration, our goal was to check it off the list. Iceland did not disappoint! We spent 10 days adventuring, eating, and taking in the sights, including the Northern Lights – twice!

So many of my clients are part of the jet-set crowd and we work together to create plans to keep them healthy and energetic while traveling. Most of my suggestions come from my own experiences as well as sourced from the tips you all have shared with me. With this spirit of sharing in mind, I wanted to share my Icelandic travel experience with you so it might inspire you to travel healthy and well on your next trip!

Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Restaurants   Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Restaurants

TASTE

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Much to everyone’s surprise, the food in Iceland was delicious! There’s not much variety, with Iceland being an island in the arctic and all, but the Icelandic attention to detail and commitment to craft comes through in every aspect of the dining experience. Nordic cooking focuses on using the best quality, local ingredients and on most menus you’ll find fresh fish, lamb, wintry vegetables like potatoes, kale, cabbage, beets, and fish soup. The fish soup was to die for – a delicious blend of butter, wine, and wild-caught fish and shellfish. I can’t wait to try making this at home!

Every restaurant I visited was delicious, with special mentions going to Kol, Fish Company, and Snaps (I ate brunch here twice!). Eating out is fun, but I try to eat some meals in when I travel, even if I’m staying in a hotel without a kitchen. In Iceland I took advantage of their traditional Skyr yogurt for breakfast along with some fresh fruit found at the store and some granola that I had brought from home. When I went out to breakfast, I typically enjoyed some smoked salmon or trout, a green salad, and roasted root vegetables. Juicing is quite popular in Iceland, so I would order a nice green juice along with my meal.

In such a dry environment, it’s important to stay hydrated. The tap water in Iceland is some of the purest water in the world, so I enjoyed filling up my water bottle straight from the faucet. I always travel with my own Life Factory water bottle so I don’t have to buy plastic water bottles during my trip.

Iceland is known for its artisanal salt production and uses geothermal energy to harvest the salt from the seawater. I’m a little bit of a salt fanatic (you can read my thoughts about salt here), so I was stoked to load up on specialty salts from Saltverk during my trip. Along with a variety of different flake sizes of sea salt (I know, I know!), I was also tempted by lava salt, birch salt, and arctic thyme salt. I couldn’t fit them all in my suitcase, but I’ve discovered that I can buy them on Amazon here in the United States!

Healthy Iceland Guide: Downtown Reykjavik   IMG_5158 Healthy Iceland Guide: Ion Hotel   IMG_5555

STAY

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Because my hotel is my “home away from home” while I’m on vacation, I try to select one that will help me maintain some healthy habits. The first factor I consider is location. I love staying somewhere that allows me to walk most places and explore the city. Because my regular exercise routine is typically disrupted during travel, I like to incorporate a lot of walking into my vacations. Due to the cold temperatures in Iceland, I also wanted to stay somewhere with a hot tub or sauna – a way to warm up after a cold, outdoor adventure. I also typically look for a hotel with a workout facility, but this trip was so full of outdoor physical activity that a hotel gym wasn’t necessary.

Our first stay was at 101 Hotel in downtown Reykjavik. It was a small, urban hotel located within walking distance of the entire city. The design aesthetic of the hotel (as well as all of Iceland) was so on trend. The minimal, white decor with black accents, wool blankets, doorless showers, and wall-to-wall mirrors made me feel like I was in a cool girl’s Instagram feed. The hotel had a private spa downstairs with a hot tub, shower, and sauna which I used daily to practice hydrotherapy – the practice of alternating hot and cold water – to improve circulation.

After spending time in the city, we wanted to get out and explore the Icelandic countryside. We rented a car and ventured out to Selfoss for a stay at the Ion Hotel. Pretty much everywhere you go outside of Reykjavik will feel remote, and the Ion Hotel made me feel like a James Bond villain in a secluded hideaway. Again, the location was awesome as it was just a short drive to some of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls and geysers and a short walk to incredible hiking and hot springs. The outdoor pool pumps in hot water directly from the local spring and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from the water. Because we were so remote, our only real dining option was the hotel restaurant. Luckily, the food was very good and they were able to prepare gluten free meals for us without a problem. Regardless, I came prepared for the worst and brought with me bags of jerky, trail mix, yogurt, bananas, granola, and dried fruit.

Healthy Iceland Guide: Northern Lights   Healthy Iceland Guide: Diving Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Blue Lagoon   Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Hiking

DO

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Iceland is beautiful – there’s so much to see (in every season!) and I feel like I only say a small portion of it. As I mentioned, my main goal was to see the Northern Lights – they did not disappoint! They’re a bit elusive so I suggest going with a guide to make sure you have the best experience. I was very excited to find a photography guide who not only took us to a prime viewing spot, but also taught me how to capture incredible images of the aurora on my camera. It didn’t happen if you don’t get a picture, right?

The other really unique thing I did was a dry suit SCUBA dive at Silfra. Silfra is the fissure between the North American continental plate and the Eurasian continental plate. It’s full of some of the clearest fresh water in the world and it is COLD. I was fitted for a dry suit, which keeps you toasty warm and dry. I clearly survived and the whole experience made me feel super tough – so tough that I don’t feel like I can complain about the cold anymore (though I probably sill will).

Iceland is a hotbed of geothermal activity (pun!), and the natural hot springs are a welcome respite from the cold air. Hike to a natural hot spring, or buy a ticket to the Blue Lagoon and indulge in a silica mask. Both hiking and driving by car are great ways to take in the natural beauty of Iceland. Be sure to take a drive around the “golden circle” to see the Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park.

Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Hiking   Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Golden Circle Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Golden Circle   Healthy Iceland Travel Guide: Hiking

Overall, Iceland was a magnificent experience and I highly recommend making the trip to anyone who shows even the slightest interest. With such clean air, water, and food, my body felt great during the entire trip. It’s a great place for adventurers, photographers, and introverts (!). I hope to share more travel recommendations with you in the future, but in the meantime, will you share your travel recommendations with me? Let me know how you stay healthy away from home either in the comments or by tagging #parisinutrition in your posts!

Coconut: The Tree of Life

As I linger in the last few warm days of summer, fall slips in with cooler mornings, shorter days, yellow school buses and the decline of berries at the farmer’s market. My confused tastebuds crave the brightness of blue, red, and green foods one day and savor the comfort of cinnamon and spice the next. During this in-between time, I look to foods that satisfy the warm and the cold – and this September, I’m loving the coconut.

Grown mostly in the tropical regions of India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the coconut’s (actually a seed) summertime qualities are obvious, but its wonderfully high fat content is what makes it nourishing to both the body and the soul this time of year. Long noted for its vast beneficial qualities, the coconut palm is known in the Philippines as “the tree of life” and the Sanskrit word for the coconut palm literally means “the tree that supplies all that is needed to live.”

The Nutritional Qualities of Coconuts Include:

  • Coconut oil is the most stable of all vegetable oils, making it ideal for high-heat cooking like baking or frying.
  • Protects cardiovascular health by raising HDL levels. (Even though it’s a saturated fat? YES!)
  • Coconut milk and human breast milk are the most abundant sources of lauric acid. Converted in your body to a substance called monolaurin, lauric acid helps you defend against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens and strengthens your immune system, protecting you from a wide range of diseases.
  • Enhances kidney function
  • Coconut contains abundant medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which don’t need to be digested by bile salts (secreted by the gallbladder). That’s why if you have trouble digesting fats, have had your gallbladder removed, or are beginning to reintroduce fat to your diet, it’s best to begin with coconut oil.
  • It’s good for your brain. Remember, 60% of your brain is composed of fat. The saturated fats in coconut oil protect your brain chemistry by building strong cell membranes.
  • The saturated fats in coconut can protect your liver from toxins like alcohol and Tylenol.
  • Your body needs sufficient fats for proper hormone function. The wrong type of fats (from trans fatty acids) can inhibit the production of stress and sex hormones.

How to Use Coconut Everyday:

  • Coconut Oil: Great for high-heat cooking like frying or baking as well as topically (on the skin). Coconut oil is white when solid, and clear to creamy colored when liquid. Look for organic, virgin coconut oil sold in most health food stores. My favorite, easy-to-find brand is Spectrum Virgin Coconut Oil.
  • Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is a rich, creamy liquid that drips out of coconut meat when it has been pulverized in water and squeezed. Slightly thicker than cow’s milk, it has a delicious, satisfying, slightly sweet taste. Use only whole coconut milk, which contains the oil, (not “lite”) in smoothies, cream sauces, curries, desserts and soups. You can buy BPA-free cans here or learn to make your own here.
  • Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut: Tiny flakes of air-dried coconut can be used as a coating for sautéed shrimp or chicken, sprinkled on fruit, and added to macaroons and other desserts. Look for unsweetened, desiccated coconut in health food stores, but read the ingredients to make sure they don’t contain sweeteners or additives. My favorite brands are: Bob’s Red Mill and Let’s Do Organic.
  • Coconut Cream: When it contains no emulsifiers, coconut milk will separate into a cream (which rises to the top) and a more watery portion (often sold as “lite” coconut milk) on the bottom. The cream can be used in various desserts, even whipping up like cream. Coconut cream is not normally available in stores, but can be purchased online here.
  • Coconut Water: The water from young coconuts is delicious and very rich in minerals, especially potassium, calcium and magnesium, making it an excellent remedy for replacing electrolytes or rejuvenating the body on a hot day. Even better is cultured or fermented coconut juice, the ideal drink for athletes and the elderly. My favorite sources are: Cocobiotic, Amy & Brian, Wilderness Family Naturals and Kevita.
  • Coconut Sugar: Made by boiling the sweet water sap that drips from cut flower buds on the coconut palm, much as maple sugar is made by boiling and dehydrating the sap of maple trees, coconut sugar is a wonderful, nutrient-dense natural sweetener. It’s pale in color and either soft or gooey, depending on how long the sap was reduced. The pale color makes it excellent for coconut desserts since it does not turn them brown. My favorite sources are: Navitas Naturals and Wilderness Family Naturals.

Mint Chip Coconut Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is so simple – I wonder why we don’t enjoy it more often! This is a fantastic way to enjoy the benefits of coconut and the indulgence of ice cream without the sugar or preservatives!

Recipe inspired by The Spunky Coconut Dairy-Free Ice Cream Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Place coconut milk, honey, vanilla and peppermint in a blender and blend well.
  2. Blend in chocolate chips until they are in tiny pieces.
  3. Pour into ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
This post can be seen at the following blog carnivals: Fat Tuesday, Better Mom Mondays & Monday Mania. Hop on over to check out some other posts you might enjoy!

 

Sacred Salt

“The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears or the sea” – Isak Dinesen

Fall is generally categorized by the transformation that occurs around us. The leaves fall from trees, the weather cools, the night comes earlier, we celebrate the harvest, we all prepare for hibernation. But for me, this particular autumn is a season of newness. The birth of new opportunities is more like spring and it’s sprouts, awakening, and first steps.

I consider the first steps we can make toward good health. Most often, the simplest shifts in our daily habits can make a big impact. Some people switch the sweetener they use in their morning coffee, others upgrade their cooking oil. I’d like to focus on the most compelling flavor of all – salt.

You may assume I’m going to tell you to reduce your salt intake. I’m not.

Our bodies are filled with salt – our blood, sweat, tears, and even our urine – it’s all salty.  In fact, salt is so vital to our health that without it, we would literally die of thirst. As an essential nutrient (meaning our bodies cannot manufacture it on their own), salt is necessary for:

  • muscle function
  • taste sensation
  • proper functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • important digestive functions.

The Truth About Table Salt

The salt that you find in table salt and most processed foods is sodium chloride.  Like our sugar, flour and vegetable oils – this salt is highly refined; the product of a chemical and high-temperature industrial process that removes all the valuable magnesium salts as well as trace minerals naturally occurring in the sea. To keep salt from clumping, salt refiners add several additives, including aluminum compounds. To replace the natural iodine salts that are removed during processing, potassium iodide is added. To stabilize the iodide compound, processors add dextrose, which turns the iodized salt a purplish color. A bleaching agent is then necessary to restore whiteness to the salt. Even products called “sea salt” are processed like this.

Real Salt

It’s important to replenish the salt in our body, and using the right salt is what makes all the difference in the world. The best salt is sun-dried sea salt containing traces of marine life that provide organic forms of iodine. This salt is extracted by the action of the sun on seawater. Its light grey color indicates a high moisture and trace mineral content. This natural salt contains only about 82 percent sodium chloride; it contains 14 percent macro-minerals, particularly magnesium, and nearly 80 trace minerals. Red sea salt from Hawaii is also an excellent product, but is not easily found in the continental United States.

Considered in ancient times a “gift of the gods,” salt isn’t necessarily the killer it’s made out to be.  Yes, too much processed table salt consumed in unbalanced meals can be harmful, but flavoring homemade meals with real salt is essential for health and happiness.

Drew’s To-Do’s

  • Toss your table salt
  • Get rid of frozen or packaged foods with high sodium content. They’re not filled with real salt.
  • Stock your kitchen with real sea salt
  • You may need to replace your saltshaker – real salt can stick and may not shake out as nicely as you are used to. I prefer to use an old-fashioned salt box like the ones at Totally Bamboo

My favorite sources

Wilderness Family Naturals

Celtic Sea Salt

Real Salt

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:6